Current Situation of Party Factions: Why Is Process of Dissolution Being Delayed?

Although the ruling Liberal Democratic Party ostentatiously declared that it would dissolve its factions, why is the process taking so long? It is inevitable for suspicions to arise that the LDP is waiting until the public’s interest in this problem cools down and that the party intends to renege on its promise.

In response to the alleged violations of the Political Funds Control Law involving LDP factions, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced his intention in January to dissolve the faction led by himself. Based on the prime minister’s decision, the Abe, Nikai and Moriyama factions also announced their dissolution.

Of these, only the Moriyama faction has already submitted a notice of dissolution as a political organization to the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry and has completed the procedures.

The remaining three factions have explained that it is taking time to terminate the contracts for the offices they have rented around the Diet Building. However, they should be able to terminate the contracts immediately if they desire to do so.

In mid-April, the Motegi faction also announced that it would dissolve as a political organization, but the faction said it has not decided when to do so.

The LDP has a history of proclaiming the dissolution of factions every time it finds itself in a tight spot, but then reviving them after some time has passed. This time, too, it appears that each faction is waiting to see whether the others really intend to dissolve.

The factions’ years of improper accounting practices have caused the public to distrust politics. They appear to have no reflection on that nor a sense of urgency over the current situation.

The process for handling the remaining funds when a faction is dissolved is also undecided. The Moriyama faction has distributed the money among its members. The Abe faction, which allegedly created hidden funds, is reportedly planning to donate the money to the areas hit by the Noto Peninsula Earthquake.

The factions need to make public their arrangements for dissolving as political organizations.

It has been said that factions, backed by their “strength in numbers,” have been exerting influence over appointments to ministerial positions in cabinets and key party posts, preventing the right person from being appointed to the right post.

However, if the factions’ function to coordinate personnel affairs is eliminated, it will not be easy to assign not only the 19 cabinet members and party executive posts, but also 26 senior vice ministers and 28 parliamentary secretaries, as well as the chairpersons of Diet committees and other posts, based on the aptitudes and wishes of Diet members.

It is necessary to present specific ways to appoint Diet members to these posts appropriately.

It is true that the fact that the factions have competed with each other, such as in LDP presidential elections, has helped vitalize the party. In some respects, the factions have brought a sense of gravity to politics by keeping in check the excessive behavior of prime ministers and senior party members. They have also served the function of educating younger party members.

If the factions that have played such a role were to disappear, some observers believe that power would be concentrated in the hands of prime ministers and LDP secretaries general. Organizational reform of the LDP to achieve sound party management is another important issue.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 2, 2024)